When the country comes to town2nd September 2021 | 3 min read
As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s exactly what our residents did when they found out their beloved annual tradition would not go ahead for the year.
Local agricultural shows are the highlight of the annual social calendar for many regional areas around Australia. Sale, in Victoria’s beautiful Gippsland region is no exception. Agricultural shows provide the opportunity for country people to come together and celebrate strong community connections forged through good times and bad.
Many residents at Sale Gardens Care Community have enjoyed a lifetime of involvement with the Sale Agricultural Show. Formed in 1859, the show society remains the oldest community organisation in the region and has a rich history of celebrating all aspects of life on the land, from farm animals and machinery to baking and hand crafts.
When the difficult decision was taken by the Sale and District Agricultural Society to cancel the annual show due to COVID-19 restrictions, residents at Sale Gardens Care Community knew they had to do something to keep the long-standing tradition alive. Residents and team members joined forces to create a committee with residents arranging all aspects of the show.
There’s obviously something in a name. Affectionately known as ‘the two Joans’, residents Joan Nix and Joan Kewish together proved to be a formidable force in the organisation of the event. Driven by a passion for keeping their local community spirit alive and backed by an extensive background in event management and administration, they took on the planning of the show ably supported by other residents.
As a life member of the Country Women’s Association with 50 years’ experience with the iconic organisation, which is a staunch supporter of country women and families, Joan Kewish was well placed to guide the organisational efforts. Similarly, Joan Nix drew upon skills gained during a long clerical career to ensure everything ran smoothly. She shared, “I enjoyed organising the show because I got to see the surprise on the residents’ and families’ faces when they saw all the things we do and create here.”
An impressive 224 entries were received for the show from residents, family and team members. Categories ranged from baking, sewing, knitting, artwork, to homegrown fruit and vegetables and plants. One family managed to contribute entries from an astounding five generations of keen show exhibitors. Residents performed all the key roles on show day including judging, stewarding and displaying entries. Like any good agricultural show, competition was fierce with many of the baked goods classes hotly contested with long-held reputations on the line.
Those attending were even able to partake of that unique show favourite, the dagwood dog. For the uninitiated, a dagwood dog consists of a battered hot dog on a stick, generously dipped in tomato sauce. It’s an unusual delicacy loved by show-goers, both young and old. Plenty of other festive food options were also on offer, created by Sale Garden Care Community’s in-house food service team.
The inaugural Sale Gardens Care Community show was such a success that the organising committee decided that the show could not be their last. The committee re-formed and again hosted another very successful show at Easter time. The two Joans are hopeful that the Sale and District Agricultural Show will go ahead again this year, but either way they’re thrilled to be able to continue to contribute to the community they love.